White Noise to Help People Sleep Better

12 June, 2020
White noise has been getting a lot of attention because it can supposedly help humans sleep better. Now, what do you know about white noise?
 

More and more people are praising white noise, as it can improve relaxation, focus, and cognitive abilities. This sound can also help humans get better sleep.

Thus, many parents are using white noise to calm their babies. Some statements assure that this type of noise can help people get better sleep. But is this true?

If it’s true, white noise could help many people with sleep disorders. If you’d like to know more about it, this is the article for you!

A man sleeping.

What’s white noise?

Just like with light, sound can also be presented through a spectral graph. This way, just as white is the sum of all colors, white noise compiles the entire spectrum of existent sound frequencies. It does this harmonically, it doesn’t allow other sounds to outrange each other.

A constant and uniform sound, like the sound of a tuned-out radio or buzzing in the background, is the result. It can also compare to the natural sound of the rain or the wind.

The use of white noise to help people get better sleep

Its main positive effects depend on how our dreams can mask other sounds. This is why you stay calm during traffic or any other disturbing stimuli.

 

This relaxing effect works especially well in babies and light sleepers. This noise can block other sounds, preventing them from stimulating the brain cortex.

Likewise, people who suffer from tinnitus can enjoy it to get quality sleep. The white noise can block the whistling that tinnitus causes.

Listening to white noise is an effective strategy to attenuate those annoying symptoms and get better rest.

A woman sleeping using a white noise machine.

Are there any side effects?

However, it’s not all good news. It doesn’t work for everybody. People with sleep apnea and other respiratory diseases shouldn’t use white noise. Overusing it can also have negative effects.

Using it every night for a long time can damage your hair cells, those that capture sounds. The constant presence of noise will keep these cells active. It’ll prevent them from conducting the regeneration processes that occur in your body when you sleep.

With babies, you need to be extra careful. Listening to high volumes can damage children’s hearing and increase the risk of language issues.

The best way to use white noise to get better sleep

There isn’t enough scientific evidence on the benefits of using white noise to get better sleep. But, if it works for you, use it with moderation. Try to use it on specific days when you can’t get to sleep. Besides, keep it on a low volume.

 

The same applies to children. If your children relax when they listen to it, use it only when nothing else calms them. Yet, don’t overuse it on them.

To get better sleep, start by practicing good sleep hygiene. Set times to go to sleep and wake up, avoid stimulant food and drinks at night, and maintain a good sleep environment.

A baby sleeping happily using white noise.

If you can’t fall asleep or if you suffer from a sleep disorder, make an appointment with a sleep specialist first. They can give you the tools and information you need to get better sleep. White noise can be an alternative but not a long-term solution.

 
  • Miramontes, P. (1999). El color del ruido. Ciencias, (054).
  • Spencer, J. A., Moran, D. J., Lee, A., & Talbert, D. (1990). White noise and sleep induction. Archives of disease in childhood65(1), 135-137.